Thinking of Starting My Own Web Design Company [Serious]

by lirikh
22 replies
Hey guys,

I'm seriously thinking of starting my own web design company. Since this forum has helped me progress my knowledge, I would like to once again hear members speak their mind as I would appreciate any input.

I have reached the point where I HATE building websites. I've did a couple of jobs, have some current clients that are pulling me some residual money, but I would like to expand my business beyond my own capabilities. I only have a limited amount of time, and I'm more interested in management/entrepreneurship than designing and installing websites. I'm not much of a coder neither. I develop all my websites with WordPress and have some decent skills in html/php to customize the layout and add more functionality, mostly simple stuff. I never took any programming classes though, it all came from learning bit by bit -- I've been messing around with websites for over 5 years now, but nothing serious.

I'm a finance major student so I have an idea where to start from, but I don't have any concrete numbers. If you started a web design company, could you please share some information?

My first step would be to find an outsourcing team. I would begin with one worker. I prefer offering my clients CMS web solutions (WordPress) so I was thinking of hiring a WordPress-savvy developer from Philippines to handle the theme customization and editing of WordPress to satisfy my clients' needs. Could you tell me what is your average time length of a project? I want to estimate my average expense so I can figure out which prices to charge my clients and which wages to pay my workers.

What about hosting? Do you offer your own hosting service? I was thinking of subscribing as a Hostnine reseller, but I'm not sure if it's just better to send them to the host itself. If I offer my own hosting services, I could make some residual income out of it, so that's a plus.

I'm also planning on using Basecamp to handle all communication with my team and clients and Quickbooks for accounting/bookkeeping. Later on, I would hire more coders/graphic designers for more complex projects. I would also most likely hire a support team to handle any inquiries.

What are you thoughts? Do you think a web design company is lucrative?
#company #design #serious #starting #thinking #web
  • Profile picture of the author ownergolan
    You cant estimate shit without doing a few sales.

    so before figuring everything out, pick up the phone / go cold to business owners / drive traffic to your offer and make a bunch of sales, then you would actually know if;

    - the ROI is good
    - the outsourcing is working out
    - this could scale

    until then, its just an idea. start as soon as you can - MVP - minimum viable product.

    Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author SergioFelix
    With reseller hosting you'll have to deal with your client's hosting problems yourself (although you normally are allowed to scalate the tickets to your actual provider if you can't resolve them).

    Another way to address this, would be to use a domain of yours to redirect with your affiliate link to the hosting company.

    Note: Most companies do not pay you a recurring commission (i.e. HostGator) but there are some that do (LiquidWeb) although is a bit more pricey.

    The cool thing about using a reseller account is that you set the pricing and because of that, you can set all kinds of awesome deals to your clients.

    If I were you, I'd get the reseller account even if I didn't intended to resell hosting per se because of all the control you have over your accounts (it's what I do).

    Have in mind that if you have a client that knows nothing about tech related stuff, you might need to create their e-mail addresses for them, print monthly visitors charts, etc.

    If they EVER ask for access to their hosting account, you can easily give them access if you have a reseller account without compromising your own websites.

    You can still get away if you ask them to sign up to their hosting account through a specific link and then to forward you their welcome e-mail but I have found out that many people will say:

    "I don't want to sign up to that, sign me yourself or with your own servers, however you do it, just invoice me."

    With a reseller account you avoid that hassle and many more.

    Just giving yourself some ideas on this so you get the right hosting account to pull this off properly.

    Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I have reached the point where I HATE building websites.
    Why set up a business about something you hate?
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    • Profile picture of the author BadMab
      Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      Why set up a business about something you hate?
      That's what I thought when I read the OP. I was a Mgt. major, but I got into web design because I enjoyed it a few years after I graduated.

      And you should base your prices on the market rate of a website, not the direct cost.

      Good luck, but I would be weary if you already know you don't enjoy the core of your business.
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      • Profile picture of the author lirikh
        Originally Posted by BadMab View Post

        That's what I thought when I read the OP. I was a Mgt. major, but I got into web design because I enjoyed it a few years after I graduated.

        And you should base your prices on the market rate of a website, not the direct cost.

        Good luck, but I would be weary if you already know you don't enjoy the core of your business.
        Like I specified earlier, I do not not enjoy the core of my business. I just don't enjoy the work related to it as it have became pretty repetitive (boring) for me. I LOVE web technology but I HATE being the one doing the work. I don't know how to put it in more simpler terms and this shouldn't be the concern of this topic.

        Yes, I would base my prices on the market prices, but I still need to know the general idea of my operating expenses to see how my profit margin will be. That is why I decided to create this thread, but it seems the Warrior forum has become flooded with pessimistic parasites.
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        • Profile picture of the author bob ross
          Originally Posted by lirikh View Post

          but it seems the Warrior forum has become flooded with pessimistic parasites.
          We're being realistic.

          You come in here talking about how you have a couple clients and that you're trying to get all these international outsourcers and VA's and whatnot to handle what seems to be some very high workload coming you way.

          Apparently you're not concerned with getting clients, would you like to share with us how you plan on getting so much business that it warrants all this elaborate planning?
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  • Profile picture of the author bob ross
    I'm guessing that this kind of elaborate planning is a result of the crap they teach in business courses at college. Do they even talk about marketing so you can actually bring in clients?

    Wtf do they suggest if they do? I can only imagine.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rearden
      Originally Posted by bob ross View Post

      I'm guessing that this kind of elaborate planning is a result of the crap they teach in business courses at college. Do they even talk about marketing so you can actually bring in clients?

      Wtf do they suggest if they do? I can only imagine.
      Business school instructs one how to manage someone else's business, not yours.

      They can't teach "How To Grow A Pair 101" in college.
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  • Profile picture of the author lirikh
    You cant estimate shit without doing a few sales.

    so before figuring everything out, pick up the phone / go cold to business owners / drive traffic to your offer and make a bunch of sales, then you would actually know if;

    - the ROI is good
    - the outsourcing is working out
    - this could scale

    until then, its just an idea. start as soon as you can - MVP - minimum viable product.

    Good luck
    I have already made sales, and I have already clients lined up but I just don't have time to work on their projects. I just wanted other people to chime in and share their opinion. But thank you nonetheless.

    Why set up a business about something you hate?
    Well I don't hate the idea of websites, I just hate doing the action myself as it became pretty boring and tedious for me. As I mentioned in my opening post, I prefer management/entrepreneurship.

    I'm guessing that this kind of elaborate planning is a result of the crap they teach in business courses at college. Do they even talk about marketing so you can actually bring in clients?

    Wtf do they suggest if they do? I can only imagine.
    Why are you even posting here if your intentions are just to flame the college institutes? I'm still a student and haven't yet graduated, and I'm missing some courses of course. And for your information, I have already pulled in quite a bit of clients. I just need to expand.

    Business school instructs one how to manage someone else's business, not yours.

    They can't teach "How To Grow A Pair 101" in college.
    Only one can teach oneself how to grow a pair.
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    • Profile picture of the author peterbujok
      Originally Posted by lirikh View Post

      Why are you even posting here if your intentions are just to flame the college institutes? I'm still a student and haven't yet graduated, and I'm missing some courses of course. And for your information, I have already pulled in quite a bit of clients. I just need to expand.
      I'm sure you've heard the quote before "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." That said, you really won't pick up too much in college about how to SELL, which is the most important factor in running a successful business. It is the difference between giving a Wordpress site away for $500 and selling it for $3500+.

      Bob Ross has a point, your best bet is to really push hard to learn how to sell as best as you can. This means door to door and even cold calling. The day to day business operations will come later, and you usually have to figure them out on your own, school doesn't help much with that either.

      It's okay that you don't want to build the sites yourself, but you should always be able to fix the technical problems yourself as the business owner. You never know what to expect.
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  • Profile picture of the author PeacefulCalamity
    There's nothing wrong with a little planning ahead.

    As per your questions: there are some outsourcers here on the Warriors For Hire section who have an average turn around of 7-8 days for $200-300 per website.

    Going the Wordpress route is definitely the route I chose as well - not because it just has a nice user interface, but because they're plug and play for most else here on WF if ever want to outsource SEO.

    There's also this site that helps you gather information quickly from your client on their website. https://getosmosis.com/#plans

    Eventually I'll get my own Wordpress Dev VA from the Philippines. Your own VA = quicker turn around time, less prices as opposed to individual contracting, and a better eye on things. Though I wouldn't consider that until you have consistent sale after sales week to week.
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    • Profile picture of the author lirikh
      Originally Posted by PeacefulCalamity View Post

      There's nothing wrong with a little planning ahead.

      As per your questions: there are some outsourcers here on the Warriors For Hire section who have an average turn around of 7-8 days for $200-300 per website.

      Going the Wordpress route is definitely the route I chose as well - not because it just has a nice user interface, but because they're plug and play for most else here on WF if ever want to outsource SEO.

      There's also this site that helps you gather information quickly from your client on their website. https://getosmosis.com/#plans

      Eventually I'll get my own Wordpress Dev VA from the Philippines. Your own VA = quicker turn around time, less prices as opposed to individual contracting, and a better eye on things. Though I wouldn't consider that until you have consistent sale after sales week to week.
      Thank you PeacefulCalamity! So the turn-around time would be around 1-2 weeks per website project, that's not bad.

      I will look into the Warrior's section for outsourcing WordPress development for my intial projects.

      I looked over Osmosis and it does seem interesting. But how does it compare to Basecamp? I think I will go the Basecamp route for communication.
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  • Profile picture of the author watsonovedades
    create a facebook page and get local fans with facebook ads
    create a list
    use flyers on your city
    radio spots
    newpapers ads
    door hangers
    many more..
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  • Profile picture of the author lirikh
    Alright so I thought about it, and decided to take action now. I was about to skip a project due to time constraint, but instead I will look for a WP Dev outsourcer right now in the Warriors' forum and send him a message about the project and see if he'll be able to do it.

    To the search!

    Edit: If you have had good experience with some outsourcers, feel free to share them here No self-advertising though. Thank you
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    • Profile picture of the author payoman
      Originally Posted by lirikh View Post

      Alright so I thought about it, and decided to take action now. I was about to skip a project due to time constraint, but instead I will look for a WP Dev outsourcer right now in the Warriors' forum and send him a message about the project and see if he'll be able to do it.

      To the search!

      Edit: If you have had good experience with some outsourcers, feel free to share them here No self-advertising though. Thank you
      To be honest, you will save ALOT of money getting a designer from oDesk or onlinejobs.ph.

      Nearly every designer I have contacted from the Warrior Forum costs at LEAST $200 per site, and that's on the lowest end.

      To contrast, you could hire a good web designer full-time from one of those sites for about 2 weeks for $200. In that time, I'd estimate they could complete 5-6 websites if you had all the content ready for them.
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      • Profile picture of the author PeacefulCalamity
        Originally Posted by payoman View Post

        To be honest, you will save ALOT of money getting a designer from oDesk or onlinejobs.ph.

        Nearly every designer I have contacted from the Warrior Forum costs at LEAST $200 per site, and that's on the lowest end.

        To contrast, you could hire a good web designer full-time from one of those sites for about 2 weeks for $200. In that time, I'd estimate they could complete 5-6 websites if you had all the content ready for them.
        This.

        You would need at least a sale every week, though. Otherwise your VA won't take you seriously.

        Office based VA > Freelancer VA. At least in my speculation. Having somebody sit there and manage your VA for you in person, is always better than hoping someone works hard upon their free will.

        Originally Posted by lirikh View Post


        I looked over Osmosis and it does seem interesting. But how does it compare to Basecamp? I think I will go the Basecamp route for communication.
        Osmosis is no Basecamp. Osmosis is just there to gather most of the content for the website, from the owner himself. Though I've heard good things about Basecamp. Try it out.
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  • Profile picture of the author TurnKeyShane
    hi lirikh,

    It seems nobody is giving you a real answer. I'm normally a lurker but here is my experience based on my own company.

    A part time designer for 20 hours a week can be found on onlinejobs.ph for 8000 PHP or less which is approximately 200 a month. One designer who is good is more then enough to get going. You can expand later if you need to.

    A good full time programmer runs me approx 500 per month. This is the most difficult team member to find. It took going through several to find a real expert that was reliable.

    I would skip base camp to initially start. I ran everything off a simple PHPBB forum assigning each team member their own forum that I post assignments into. I have since been working on making my own project management software by customizing projectpier which is open source PM system. I'm also building my own time tracking software similar to odesk or elance. The other screen shot trackers I've tried in the market place did not work well or I just did not like the cost of the monthly fee. Currently I'm using an open source program called time trex which has worked fine for my workers to punch in and out with there is just no screen shots and it has more features then I really need. I just care about tracking the hours.

    I host my clients and charge them. Basically I include hosting only or hosting w/ 2 hours of maintenance included. What you can charge will be based on your market but I'm relatively inexpensive for my clients. Pros and cons to hosting or not have been debated here before but my clients prefer that I just handle everything if they do not have their own hosting or site already in place is what I've found.

    Time frames to build sites. Reality is getting the clients feedback to complete the site is your biggest hurdle. My typical time frame to complete a site runs 30-60 days but this due to the clients behavior typically.

    Your design should be able to average 1 good design per day. A design typically takes 7-8 hours to complete. Then the interior design and revisions shouldn't take quite as long.

    Your programmer will be able to custom build a theme within a week and then factor another week for revisions and tweeks. If you rip another theme you already have then it can be built within a day or so depending upon the design changes.

    So consider 1 GOOD programmer can handle 2-3 sites per month depending on the complexity and if you are custom design each interior page or if you have one standard page for the interior

    Other team members to consider as you grow which you can develop more profit centers from with your clients.

    Writer
    SEO Expert
    Video Editor
    Regular VA who knows wordpress to alter content for clients and handle social media

    My overall strategy is to build client sites and also have some of my own projects going whether is adsense sites, amazon sites, or your own product sites as well. This keeps your team productive and going during the down time.

    Most important though is to manage your finances. Don't grow to quick just as you need it. I made that mistake and it cost me a lot of money earlier this year when I had more people then jobs coming in. Start with a part time designer and a full time programmer. One good site should cover the cost of having them.

    All of the above is based on my experience. Your mileage may vary.
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    • Profile picture of the author Q Estherr
      Originally Posted by Maccius View Post

      A part time designer for 20 hours a week can be found on onlinejobs.ph for 8000 PHP or less which is approximately 200 a month. One designer who is good is more then enough to get going. You can expand later if you need to.
      Maccius,

      Do you happen to know any good wordpress plugin/themes developer or software developer?
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      • Profile picture of the author johnlee5757
        Any business, not just website design need prior experience, expertise. Only technical skills are not enough. Business Management, Customer relationship management, technical expertise of design, development. Quality control and usability review department, research and analysis wing to adopt new technologies, funds ..... and many more.
        Its really nice that you want to be an entrepreneur, I want to pull your focus on some of your quotes:
        I have reached the point where I HATE building websites
        It shows you have not much interest in web design, You are not passionate!
        Could you tell me what is your average time length of a project?
        How can some one give you time estimation, it varies project to project and strictly based on functionality, complexity, custom needs, length of project:confused:
        I want to estimate my average expense so I can figure out which prices to charge my clients and which wages to pay my workers
        Its complicated! dynamic and have lots of differences!
        Do you think a web design company is lucrative
        Yes of-course it is, but depends how much sustainable you are, have you ability to face initial losses, how you get clients and manage your mates and handle your company.
        Kindly Note: To be successful as a company there is some mission, values, objectives and a backup is required. Also it is your men who will give you taste of success or a bitter experience of defeat or loss. Experience and attitude to handle/deal with them also can play role and lots more small small issues.... If you have just a mission to make website and to sell, forget it ; You might not exist longer!

        In my reply there are certain statements which may appear as if I am lowering down your confidence, but absolutely not I have any such intention.
        They are strictly based on experiences, and I welcome you in this industry as well have best wishes for your success.
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  • Profile picture of the author IM Lover
    I love the title "serious" no need to convince us, you only need to convince yourself on it. Good luck anyway, I hope you succeed and make a good living.
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  • Profile picture of the author SpankinNewbie
    Sounds like you are at the 10,000 ft. stage and just trying to get a feel for how a business like this could be run.

    I can design websites but I too hate it. It is hard. I'm not design minded nor am I a natural coder. But I understand there is a need out there and I understand that designers and coders may not be businesses minded and therefore, you, can fill the breach. I get it.

    I would suggest the first thing you do is hang out a shingle and go get your first customer. Run it as if you had everything in place, figure it out as you go along. You'll make mistakes, hell you may even lose your first customer but you will learn. The next will be easier and another piece of the puzzle will fall into place.

    Trying and failing is the fastest way to success.

    Good luck.
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